You may not be sleeping with a married man, but at some point you’ve been Mary Jane Paul. If you’ve ever abandoned your standards just to be with a man, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you ever felt ashamed of it, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you’ve ever done it over and over again anyway, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you’ve ever been judged for that by the very family you’re busting your ass to support, you’ve been Mary Jane. If you’ve ever had an unhealthy obsession with Post It notes, you’ve been Mary Jane.
I was skeptical of the BET show starring Gabrielle Union that Twitter followers commented watching made them feel “uncomfortable because it was too closely connected to her life”. After the first episode I even attributed Union’s great acting to the fact the she was telling her own life story. But by the third episode I was hooked. Being Mary Jane gives black women something shows with predominantly white casts have been hip to for a while now: Our very own Walter White. Dare I say, our first anti-hero. She’s the woman we hate to love because she’s the perfect validation of the fact that villains have feelings too.
Being Mary Jane forces black women to swallow the bitter truth that the proverbial “good girl” and your man’s side-piece can be one in the same. Mary Jane is not some ratchet who gives good head and can fry up some chicken. She’s a professional who’s not only taking care of herself but her trifling relatives as well. It’s a harsh reality for many black women who rely on the assumption that their man being unfaithful has everything to do with sex, and nothing to do with the fact there are good women out there who make questionable choices.